Villa 0-1 Man City - Match Report
For the most part, I think that was pretty grim. Yeah OK, we only lost by one goal to an expensive, star-studded Manchester City side, but there was just nothing to get excited about. No imagination, no flair, nothing. What makes it worse was that we have now gone seven home games without a win, one of our worst runs ever throughout our proud history.
The streaker was the most entertaining thing about this game, and elicited the loudest and most deserving cheer, especially after the nifty footwork he used to get out of the stewards` firing line. But, just like a few of our first-team players, judging by the moves he was getting down to, he could do with a bit more work at Bodymoor on his ball control…
The BBC are telling me that only about 70 supporters turned up to the McLeish protest. That`s good. I understand that there aren`t many people who want him here, if anyone at all, but now is just completely the wrong time to start giving him grief. We`ve had a tough run of fixtures that has now ended, there`s still a bit of a gap between us and the teams that are in real trouble, and our next four games are completely winnable. Just to put things into context, a win against Wigan could take us up to 11th place.
Now, onto Gary Gardner. There`s no doubt that this lad is a brilliant prospect, but it was clear from today`s performance that he is just not ready to be a regular Premier League central midfielder. Some people might say that to say that after a performance against Man City is a bit harsh, but this is what he`s going to have to measure up against in future, so why shield him from it? I find it really hard to believe that people were slating McLeish for not including an inexperienced teenager in the team earlier on in the season.
The one other thing that I`d like to cover before I talk about the action on the pitch was the Holte End`s warm welcome for Joe Hart before the start of the second half. We seem to do this regularly and it really pees me off. Here is a rival goalkeeper, in a game that we want to win, who used to play for our fiercest rivals, and what do we do? We roll out the welcome mat to give him one of the cosiest receptions he`ll get this season. It couldn`t have been better for him unless we got a few lackeys from the crowd to get a reclining chair for him to sit on with a cup of tea! If Villa fans are more concerned with intimidating the manager over opposition players then something has gone severely wrong somewhere.
Anyway, in the beginning the match was a fairly typical midfield battle, with not much being created by either side in the entire first half. Adam Johnson`s effort was probably the stand-out of the first half, which hit the post just before the interval, and Sergio Aguero also managed the wriggle free twice but blazed both shots well and truly over the bar.
James Milner looked like he didn`t really want to be at Villa Park this afternoon, at least not in the away shirt anyway, judging by the amount of passes he gave to claret and blue shirts. It would be great to see him back at Villa sooner rather than later, he still doesn`t quite look himself in a Manchester City shirt.
Things weren`t completely terrible from a Villa perspective, but tame is probably the correct word to use. Richard Dunne managed two headed efforts straight at new Villa favourite Hart, and Man City certainly didn`t look as dangerous as they have done at times this season, plainly because we didn`t allow them to.
Things didn`t stay too favourable for long though, as from a corner fat Gareth hooked the ball into the path of bus-head and supposed Villa fan Lescott to finish. Villa fan? After that celebration? Just do one, you idiot. Mourinho will replace you in the summer anyway.
This did at least prompt McLeish to take the game to Man City a bit more, with N`Zogbia and Ireland both coming on, and it did seem to herald an improvement, marginally at least.
Carlos Cuellar, who had a great game in an unfamiliar position which is why I`ve given him my man of the match award, was a little unlucky with a free header right at the end from a corner just as Villa started to exert some serious pressure, and that wasn`t the end for City, as Collins` header, which fell for Bent to shoot, was serious enough to make Hart get out of his metaphorical recliner to deny Villa a share of the spoils.
So, we looked fairly solid, were a little unlucky, and could have got something out of the game right at the death. Plenty to suggest that we haven`t got too much to worry about then, especially as the season is nowhere near finishing yet. But, as a closing point, I would say that a minimum of eight points out of our next four games is absolutely vital (no pun intended) if we wanted to have a comfortable end to the season.
Have a good couple of weeks and I`ll see you in a month`s time for the Fulham game.